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Mini Bios of People of Scots Descent
Josiah Wilson Biography

This biography is from "Memorial and biographical record; an illustrated compendium of biography, containing a compendium of local biography, including biographical sketches of prominent old settlers and representative citizens of South Dakota..." Published by G. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1899. Pages 1093-1094

JOSIAH WILSON, a pioneer settler of the vicinity of Groton, is one of the prominent business men of Brown county, and is owner of considerable land in that region. He is a gentleman of marked ability and for many years has handled the extensive business of the St. Croix Lumber Company, at Groton. He is well known for his industry and integrity, and commands the respect of his associates. 

Mr. Wilson was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1855, and was the son of William and Flora Wilson, both natives of Scotland, who came to America in 1828 and settled in Lanark county, Ontario, on a farm. The grandparents of our subject came to America at the same time and settled in Ontario. The father of our subject was an architect and builder and followed that business in Ontario the remainder of his days. 

Josiah Wilson was the tenth in a family of twelve children, and was reared on a farm, and attended the country school. At the age of seventeen he learned the trade of carpenter, serving with his elder brother three years, at sixty dollars per year, after which he spent four years in Canada at his trade. He went to Watertown, South Dakota, in the spring of 1880, and in May of that year took a tree claim. He took a homestead adjoining the town site of Groton in August and erected an 8 x 10 shanty and established a residence there and worked in Watertown. In 1881 he hired his farm work done and worked at his trade in Groton until 1886. He disposed of his homestead in 1883, and the west side of the town of Groton is now located on that land. 

Many of the public buildings and business blocks of that vicinity are his handiwork. He erected the Presbyterian College building, formerly located at Groton, and the Groton station of the Milwaukee railroad, and the principal business houses of the main street of the town. He took the management of the Saint Croix Lumber Company's yard at Groton in 1886, and has conducted that business continuously since. He possesses a grain farm of three hundred and twenty acres in the southeastern part of Brown county, and also one hundred and sixty acres of land in Day county for pasture. He has passed through the experiences of living in a claim shanty, and it took six days to make the trip from Watertown to Groton with an ox team. He did his first farming with the same team, and when he went to his farm to build his shanty, he and Lawrence Saunders became lost on the present site of Groton. The grading for the railroad side track was the only object to mark the location of the place, and in June, 1881, the railroad was constructed through the town. 

Mr. Wilson was married in 1885 to Miss Eliza B. Stebbins, a native of Vermont. Mrs. Wilson is of Yankee and Irish descent. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson have adopted one child, Robert, who is now three years of age. 

Our subject has taken an active part in the local affairs of importance, and has aided materially in every enterprise which looked to the public welfare. He has served as a member of the city council, and, as a man interested in educational advancement, has filled office on the school board. He is progressive and works earnestly to raise the standard of excellence in local government, and is a man who deserves success.



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